Friday, March 25, 2011

Morden Road

Morden Road, SW19 is a pretty frightening prospect for the cyclist and the pedestrian. It's nigh on impossible to cross except late at night due to the high volume of traffic, and there's no junction with a pedestrian phase for about a mile between Kenley Road and High Path. The crossing at Kenley Road is a sheep-pen affair with a cycle time so long most people don't bother waiting. Bear in mind there are a fair number of children who need to cross this road at various points to get to school in the morning. According to Merton Council, Morden Road is one of the most dangerous in the borough (it's 7th on the list).Which is what happens when you put traffic flow above road safety.

In terms of cycling facilities, there's a bus lane (below),
but it inexplicably ends just beyond Dorset Road (below)

and then starts again at Jubilee Way (below).

This is no doubt due to TfL's obsession with traffic flow. However, there were roadworks in the section without the bus lane blocking one lane for a week or two, and they didn't seem to affect traffic flow. The bus lane 'gap' also has other consequences. When the road isn't congested, more aggressive drivers take the emptier inside lane and undertake other traffic at speed, causing serious danger. When the bus lane starts again, there is often traffic blocking the access to it, delaying buses (see the photo above). The bus lane running past the Merantun Way junction is too narrow and it's quite common for buses to be blocked by larger vehicles in the adjacent lane but effectively encroaching into the bus lane.

The bus lane also has limited periods of operation, and again it tends to be aggressive drivers who take advantage of it to undertake slower traffic (and when I say slower, average speeds are likely in excess of the 30MPH limit, at least when there's no congestion). Speeds are currently moderated by a speed camera for a short stretch, but you can expect that to be switched off soon as part of the Government's war on pedestrians.

Southbound, there is a pinch-point as you go over the tram line bridge. A single narrow traffic lane is bordered by double-white lines, and then there's a traffic island (below).

As a cyclist, you have a choice between keeping well left and risking a rear hit from an inattentive driver (see below),

or 'taking the lane', an equally intimidating prospect. After the island (too late) there is a fairly narrow advisory cycle lane (below).

What needs to be done?

First of all, extend the bus lane and make it 24h, and widen it where it's too narrow.

Remove the northbound right-turn lane that serves Lombard Road. This lane is lightly used, and traffic can access Lombard Road by turning right into Jubilee Way. That will free up roadspace that can be used to widen the southbound lane and introduce a proper cycle lane.

Narrow and reconfigure the island at the Dorset Road junction to eliminate the pinch-point and continue the southbound cycle lane through. And make it mandatory. A pedestrian crossing is needed here.

Between High Path and Lombard Road, there doesn't seem much point in the southbound side being two lanes, because it's a single lane before High Path and a single lane after Lombard Road. Having two lanes between the two points simply encourages speeding. Better to have a wide mandatory cycle lane.

There need to be proper pedestrian facilities at the Jubilee Way junction.

All of this could be done, I suspect with little or no effect on traffic flow. But TfL won't take the risk of slowing down the flow of traffic by one iota: cyclist and pedestrian safety is simply not in their DNA. Harsh? Look at the proposed layout of the Blackfriars Bridge junction and call me a liar.

1 comment:

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